The FDA approved Propecia (finasteride, 1 mg) for the treatment of male pattern hair loss in 1997. At the time, the medication was lauded as the first and only pill to treat the condition, with early clinical trials showing that over 80 percent of men taking the drug experienced an increased hair count in the first year.
Post marketing reports, however, told a different story. Many men experienced persistent sexual side effects—including erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, and a decrease in the amount of semen—even after discontinuing drug therapy.
Those seeking to hold manufacturer Merck & Co. accountable have filed lawsuits nationwide. On April 16, 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all federal Propecia lawsuits in a single court in the Eastern District of New York.
Men who have been affected by the drug’s adverse side effects may benefit from speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney. The Sanders Firm is leading the charge against Merck, the maker of this problematic medication and is actively filing dangerous drug lawsuits on behalf of those whose side effects persist.
Side effects cited in Propecia lawsuits
As early as 2006, the Swedish Medical Products Agency began investigating reports of persistent sexual dysfunction that continued in patients even after they stopped taking the medication. While Merck had claimed that less than two percent of men experienced sexual dysfunction in their initial clinical trials, a review published in 2008 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that the rate was up to 38 percent, depending on dose and duration on the drug.
In 2008, Merck changed the label in Sweden to include a warning about lasting sexual side effects. In August 2009, the Swedish Medical Products Agency concluded that Propecia could lead to permanent erectile dysfunction. The U.S. label, however, continued to state that sexual side effects would go away upon discontinuation of the drug.
Side effects associated with Propecia include:
- Lowered libido
- Reduced sperm count
- Breast tissue enlargement in men
- Ejaculation disorder
- Testicular pain
- Persistent erectile dysfunction
- Cognitive impairment
- Increased risk of an aggressive form of prostate cancer
Evidence of permanent sexual side effects from Propecia
In 2010, Merck went on to update product labels in the United Kingdom and Italy, warning of persistent and/or permanent erectile dysfunction related to Propecia. The U.S. label, however, remained unchanged.
Men who experienced serious side effects from Propecia began to seek justice in court, getting assistance from lawyers who specialized in dangerous drugs. These men felt misled by Merck’s product literature, and were likely to state that had they been properly warned about the risks, they never would have taken the drug.
In December 2010, researchers published a study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine showing that a significant number of men experienced adverse effects such as erectile dysfunction and diminished libido. In March 2011, Michael S. Irwig, M.D., medical researcher at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., surveyed 71 regular Propecia users and found that 94 percent suffered low libido, 92 percent experienced erectile dysfunction, and 92 percent had decreased sexual arousal. The most concerning results showed that many men were still experiencing these problems 40 months after stopping the medication. In June 2011, Merck updated the U.S. label to indicate that regular use of Propecia could result in persistent sexual dysfunction.
In 2012, Dr. Irwig published a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry demonstrating that men taking finasteride had a potential risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. The same year, he published another study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine showing that most men who developed persistent sexual side effects continued to suffer from those effects even after stopping the medication.
Who can file a Propecia lawsuit?
What determines eligibility to file a Propecia-related lawsuit in New York? During a case evaluation, one of our product liability lawyers will discuss the severity of the injury with you. Lasting effects, for example, are more likely to qualify for a lawsuit than temporary ones.
Medical records showing the plaintiff had a healthy sexual history prior to using Propecia will also be helpful, as well as medical tests showing persistent erectile dysfunction or other health complications.
It also helps if the plaintiff can show he was unaware of the potential risks. Those who took Propecia before the new warning was added in 2011 are likely to have a stronger case than those who started taking it after June 2011, for example. Men who develop cancer related to Propecia use are also likely to have strong cases if they took the drug before the FDA warned about Propecia and prostate cancer in early summer 2011.
Current status of Propecia litigation
Plaintiffs who are considering a Propecia lawsuit in New York may feel intimidated by the prospect, especially considering the personal nature of the drug’s side effects. Manufacturers of dangerous drugs need to be held accountable, however, and men who have suffered permanent injuries deserve to be compensated.
In the past few years, media coverage of persistent Propecia side effects has increased, raising awareness about the drug’s serious health complications. Propecia lawsuits have been consolidated not only at the federal level (where over 400 cases are pending in the Eastern District of New York), but also at the state level. All New Jersey Propecia cases are now pending in Middlesex County in coordinated proceedings.
Consolidation helps increase the efficiency of pretrial proceedings, and reduces the risk of inconsistent rulings, while retaining the individual nature of each lawsuit. Each plaintiff must discuss his options with his New York personal injury attorney, but with the wave of litigation facing Merck at this time, men can feel confident that a strong case put together by an experienced professional has a good chance of resulting in either a settlement or jury award for the plaintiff.
Hire a qualified Propecia lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered from persistent Propecia side effects, you may benefit from a consultation with a Propecia lawyer at The Sanders Firm. We have decades of experience handling claims related to dangerous drugs, and will fight for your rights in court. Contact us today for a complimentary case evaluation to determine your eligibility for filing a Propecia lawsuit.. Call us toll-free: 1.800 FAIR PLAY (800.324.7752).